Barr’s decision is the latest move to massively expand deadly immigration detention

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Washington, DC—In response to U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s ruling to thwart asylum seekers right to bond, Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network, issued the following statement:

“Cloaked in a bureaucratic process change, this is an all out assault in the Trump Administration’s war on immigrants. Barr’s decision to deny many asylum seekers the opportunity to ask for bond will lead to a massive increase in indefinite immigration detention.

This first ruling from Barr demonstrates the degree to which the new Attorney General is in lock-step with Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda which has been casting a wide-net to expand the abusive and deadly immigration detention system, by:

  • Continually increasing funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. For FY2020, Trump’s budget asks for an additional $2.7 billion to massively expand the immigration detention system to 54,000 people detained per day—including a shameful 300 percent increase for family detention.
  • Refusing to release people on parole, including asylum-seekers who have passed their initial screening. ICE has refused to comply with their own policies to release people from detention in order to access the resources and support they need to present their case in immigration court. In addition to massive human rights and due process violations, the refusal to release immigrants has dramatically increased the number of people detained each day. 
  • And now, denying the opportunity for asylum seekers to ask for bond. Another funnel to make the case to increase the detention infrastructure in this country which already has over 220 facilities nationwide.

If this decision is implemented in 90 days times, we are gravely concerned that ICE will advance plans for massive tent detention camps—a sinister move that will ensure further loss of life, human rights violations and the separation of families. This will be in addition to Trump’s already massive detention system that has grown by more than 40 percent since he took office.

Immigration detention is not the answer: not for asylum seekers, or for anyone else. It’s a punitive system with a well-documented track record of abuse where lives are in jeopardy. We must ensure that the already massive detention system doesn’t grow. Congress must cut funding to detention and stop the expansion now.”


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit